Virtual reality (VR) is the "the term used to describe a three-dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person. That person becomes part of this virtual world or immersed within this environment and whilst there, is able to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions."
The concept of VR can be traced back as far as the 1860s, when 360 degree panoramic murals first appeared. But, VR as we know it today first began to appear in the 1980s.
As VR devices become more affordable, the technology has the potential to reshape more industries. Unfortunately, VR is largely underutilized in manufacturing as well as most industries.
In the near future, customers could be seeing final products before production, generating interest and saving everyone time and money. Engineers could be using the technology to interact with their designs and troubleshoot potential issues prior to production.
VR also has the potential to improve worker safety. By designing and simulating production lines virtually, manufacturing facilities could see potential hazardous maneuvers and fine-tune workflows. As for the production manager, they would use the technology to identify bottlenecks, maximize efficiencies and reduce waste before any work began.
What does the future hold? The VR industry will be moving towards blending the real with the virtual or holographic displays, which is more augmented reality. We are merely at the pioneer stage of exploring the new digital frontier.
Take a look at the slideshow below to view where VR has been and where it is now.